Word of the Day

Thursday, May 17, 2018

paraph

[ par-uhf, puh-raf ]

noun

a flourish made after a signature, as in a document, originally as a precaution against forgery.

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What is the origin of paraph?

A paraph is the flamboyant flourish at the end of a signature to prevent forgery. The most famous and perhaps only paraph familiar to modern Americans is the one at the end of John Hancock’s signature on the Declaration of Independence. Paraph comes from Middle French paraphe or paraffe “abbreviated signature,” which is either a shortening of Late Latin paragraphus “a short horizontal line below the beginning of a line and marking a break in the sense,” or Medieval Latin paraphus “a flourish at the end of a signature.” Paraph entered English in the late 14th century.

how is paraph used?

Between you and me pivotal affinities occlude such petty tics as my constant distinctive signature with its unforgeable paraph

Joseph McElroy, Ancient History: A Paraphrase, 1971
[Frédéric] Chopin signed in a compact and bold hand. His signature exhibits choppy letter construction and is typically finished off with a bold paraph.

Ron Keurajian, Collecting Historical Autographs, 2017
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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

bezonian

[ bih-zoh-nee-uhn ]

noun

Archaic. an indigent rascal; scoundrel.

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What is the origin of bezonian?

The root of the archaic English noun bezonian is the Italian noun bisogno “need, lack,” also in the late 16th century, “raw, needy recruit (newly landed in Italy from Spain).” In English bezonian has always had this meaning, but also, by an easy extension, ”poor beggar, indigent rascal.” Bezonian entered English in the late 16th century.

how is bezonian used?

Great men oft die by vile bezonians

William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2, 1623

To Juan, who was nearest him, address’d / His thanks, and hopes to take the city soon / Not reckoning him to be a “base Bezonian” / (As Pistol calls it) but a young Livonian.

Lord Byron, Don Juan, 1819–24
Tuesday, May 15, 2018

tempus fugit

[ tem-poos foo-git ]

Latin. time flies.

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What is the origin of tempus fugit?

One cannot get more classical than tempus fugit “time flies,” a phrase that occurs in the Georgics, a poem about farming and country life published around 29 b.c. by the Roman poet Vergil (70-19 b.c.). Tempus fugit entered English in the late 18th century.

how is tempus fugit used?

Well, tempus fugit; let us be going. We have just an hour to reach our dining-hall.

Ruth McEnery Stuart, "Two Gentlemen of Leisure," Moriah's Mourning, 1898

“Thank you! Thank you!” you call to the woman, “but tempus fugit and to be honest, it’s fugiting rather quickly for me at the moment …”

Herbie Brennan, RomanQuest, 2011

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